• Brunei – Sharia is now the new law of the land
  • Sudan – a BoP crisis made worse by the violence in South Sudan;
  • Thailand – Yingluck Shinawatra’s stepping down solves nothing.

AZERBAIJAN:  While many international observers have become alarmed about the deteriorating human-rights situation in this country, the US and Europe keep any criticism restrained for geo-political reasons. Although the economy is doing well, it will take time for the improved conditions to benefit all people.

KENYA:  Hard-currency reserves have been built up close to the government’s official goal, and the Treasury has capped foreign borrowing in keeping with IMF demands. The government is trying to cut spending to free up funds for projects that would spur economic growth. It is having difficulty defending its security efforts in light of a seemingly relentless wave of terrorist attacks.

NIGERIA:  This is a time in which Abuja should bask in the glory of overseeing what has suddenly become Africa’s largest economy. Instead, the latest terrorist attacks by Boko Haram have served as a reminder that socio-political stability remains elusive, the peace pact with MEND in the Niger Delta notwithstanding.

PAKISTAN:  The nation is being given a financial respite, yet the BoP situation will remain difficult. Structural problems abound, especially in the troubled energy sector. While the economy has a chance of delivering slightly better-than-expected growth this year, much will depend on how the government handles the socio-political challenges.

PANAMA:  The outcome of the presidential elections is the best that could be hoped for in a race that for all intents and purposes was a referendum on the outgoing Ricardo Martinelli.  The new man at the helm will largely follow his predecessor’s economic policies, but, one hopes, without the attendant corruption.

PHILIPPINES:  Reconstruction after the typhoon Haiyan, along with stronger exports and tourism, should keep business activity humming all year. In signing a new military pact both the Philippines and the United States emphasized that it is not directed against China, but in reality, of course, it is.

SLOVENIA: The collapse of the government requires new elections to be held and this is likely to cause a further delay in the privatization program, making the mopping up of fiscal red ink that much more difficult. With 2014 borrowing needs covered, however, the country should have no need for outside help.

UNITED KINGDOM:  The government has good reason to be pleased with the economy’s performance. The Bank of England may even have to raise interest rates in the second half of this year to prevent overheating, especially in the housing market.  But there is no assurance that this will benefit the “ins” politically, with four major tests coming up.

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